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breakfast-bowls-web

Dear Readers, Thanks to the “happiness engineers” at WordPress my site has just been migrated from WordPress.com to WordPress.org in order to make the site more functional and richer for you. While it is a necessary move, here’s the rub: If you are a WordPress blogger “following” this blog you will no longer receive my posts in your WordPress feed (called Reader). The only way to receive my posts fresh from the kitchen now is by email and I love having your with me

Banyan-daily-routine-kitSo if you don’t want to miss posts like the most recent one on Magical Mornings with Ayurveda that includes this offer of Banyan Botanical‘s Daily Routine Kit to gift to a reader, then please go to Food-ALoveStory.com and put your email address in the box in the right column.

Sign up now so you can get this daily kit. I’ll be picking a winning recipient tomorrow.

Thank you for your commitment to sacred, sumptuous living. Namaste! 

Berry + Peach Panzanella

tuscany

When I lived in Florence my favorite place to take visitors, after the galleries “dell’arte,” was rural Tuscany where we’d visit olive groves, stone villas, renaissance churches, hilltops where we’d look out and marvel at the blue of the landscape that looks just the way Da Vinci painted it, and finally an old farm for lunch where a bright Panzanella was specially prepared.

Panzanella was not something that had made its way out of Tuscany at that time. It was such a classic farmer’s dish that it wasn’t even in the restaurants in Italy. The only place you’d find it was on the farm, making it more than delicious – it was a deeply personal, historical, cultural experience of a land I thought I’d never leave.

mint raspberries-web

peaches and greens-web

It suits my nature to make a dish that uses what we have, before looking for what we don’t, but while I loved it once, this salad is just about everything I don’t eat any more – bread, tomatoes, raw onions, raw garlic. These are foods Ayurveda calls rajasic, meaning agitating to mind and body. Indeed, many find them inflammatory.

So when I had some Gluten-free bread leftover last week after an evening of entertaining at my friend Marcia’s, I remembered Panzanella and thought I’d toss it with the rest of what was lying around and see if I could come up with a sattvic version of this salad.

berries and peaches panzanella-web

You can use any bread, including gluten-free like this one. Mint is essential, and I added oregano to keep it Italian. But you could replace that with thyme, or tarragon, or even rosemary – whatever you have on hand.  Be generous with the herbs. The flavor contrast with the fruit is enlivening.

Also, please use a good olive oil. Nothing too bitter, nor too bland. The fruit is delicate enough to need a truly refined oil.

You can make this up to 24 hours ahead. The longer you keep it before serving the more marinated and delicious it all becomes, but also a bit soggy. So, it’s a trade-off – presentation or taste? It’s good both ways really. You can’t go wrong.

berry panzanella

Berry & Peach Panzanella
Serves 2-4

Stale Bread, torn into bite size pieces to make about 1-2 cups
1 carton Raspberries
a generous handful of Blackberries
1 ripe Peach
4-5 leaves of Dandelion, torn into small strips
6-8 Mint leaves
a small handful of Cilantro, optional
an even smaller handful of fresh Oregano
1/2 small Orange, juiced
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 t Champagne Vinegar (or Red Wine Vinegar)
1 T extra virgin Olive Oil
pink Salt
fresh cracked black Pepper, optional
Arugula

In a medium-sized salad bowl, place your bread pieces. Rinse your berries, pat dry, and add to the bowl. Cut the peach into small pieces on a cutting board, saving the juices, and pour all of it into the salad. Gently stir in the dandelion, mint, optionally the cilantro, and half the oregano, then toss with the juices of orange and lemon, the vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, optionally a dash of black pepper.

Cover and allow to stand for at least half an hour before serving so the bread soaks up the juices. Refrigerate if it will stand any longer. Once you are ready to serve, lightly toss to see if the bread has absorbed enough of the juices. If the bread looks dry, carefully add a bit more orange juice (or lemon, vinegar or olive oil depending on your taste), adding just enough, and not too much or it will turn into a soggy mess.

Serve on a bed of arugula, and garnish with the remaining oregano. Alternatively, skip the arugula and enjoy it for breakfast or along with these heathy crepes for a holiday brunch.

berries and peaches panzanella-web

For original versions of Panzanella, Gourmet offers this authentic Italian version,  while the kitchn offers a very pretty, very American interpretation.

berry panzanella-covered-web

flowers-web

Orange tree
Oranges from Marcia’s Malibu garden
Happy Memorial Day weekend. In honor of the holiday and the opening of summer, I have a gift of what I call “sacred remembrance” for you. It’s a recording I did of some of my favorite verses from the Upanishads. Please leave a comment below by Monday night, and I will send it to you by email.

To all who serve and offer themselves to a greater cause, thank you. Namaste!

Citrus + Sunlight: Daily Wellness

lemon mint wellness tonic

Last week it was heat exhaustion. This week it’s home-from-school-sick-days. It seems whatever challenge the season offers, my answer is always the same: a very citrus-y water with fresh mint or ginger. It’s like drinking prana direct from the sun.

Sunny Wellness Tonic

1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small orange, clementine, or tangerine, juiced
1 glass of fresh, clean water
pink salt
fresh mint or a slice of ginger, peeled

Pour the citrus juices into a tall glass with water. Add a tiny pinch of pink salt. Crush the mint or ginger with a mortar and pestle or with the butt of a knife on your cutting board. Scrape the mint or ginger, and any juices, into your tonic and stir. Sip it at room temperature or gently warmed.

  1. Daily regime: Wake up to this every morning. Drink a full 8 ounce glass first thing on an empty stomach. It’s like waking up to liquid sunshine.
  2. Dehydration: Stir in another pinch of pink salt and sip continuously to avoid heat exhaustion, dehydration, or to help recover. Use mint, not ginger. Crushed cilantro or fresh aloe juice can also be added, especially with cases of overheating.
  3. Fighting colds: Warm it up and sip it hot, allowing the vapors to steam your nasal passages and help with decongestion. If it’s a cold you’ve got, these really potent lemon + ginger cold remedies are worth a try.

lemon wellness tonic

More:                                                      The original Lemony Ginger Tonic. Home-made Lemon Ginger Brew

Do you like these recipes? if so, please share these on Facebook, Twitter, your favorite social media, by email or word of mouth. Let’s nourish the world together.

Nettles: That Most Spring of Things

garlicky nettles

Dr Suhas, that great luminary of Ayurvedic healing, reminds us that eating our greens can be the best medicine, but he adds that greens should always be prepared with two things: garlic and lemon.

nettle leaf

Yes, nature’s medicine can be delicious.

nettles mandala

Thinking of all the lemony, garlicky greens we find in Italian, French, Greek, Chinese, African and just about every “heritage” cuisine, I am reminded again of how intuitively Ayurvedic wisdom is alive in every culture that grew up from a deep relationship with the land.

One of those classic heritage dishes is this  lemony-garlicky sauté of nettles – simple, delicious, and medicinal.

sauteed nettles-web

Why nettles? One thing wisdom elders and grandmothers knew was that the nettles growing wild in spring are delicious, potent medicine for so many of our spring concerns. As an astringent, diuretic, anthelmintic, antihistamine, decongestant, and detoxifier, nettles help your body manage the Kapha tendency of spring, especially sinus congestion, allergies, asthma.

Nettles are so good for you that my friend, the great medicine woman Shannon Thompson, recently said, “It’s easier to list the few thing nettles don’t help.”

nettles and berry blooms

Where? Nettles grow abundantly in wooded areas, by river beds, and around abandoned buildings… but if you can’t find them in your neighborhood, Traditional Medicinals makes a fine nettle tea and Frontier sells the leaves and roots in bulk. (I do not have an affiliate relationship with these companies. I do appreciate their integrity and products, and I want to help you access this natural medicine as best you can.)

Be sure to wear gloves when working with nettles. Once they are cooked, they are tender and harmless, but until then, they can really sting. And sting with a lasting vengeance. If that happens, put your hands in ice water. Then wash with soap. Use tape to extract the nettle thorns (which can be invisible). Apply a thick paste of baking soda (mixed with scant water) and allow to dry before washing off. Finally, eat your cooked nettles for the antihistamine.

sauteed nettles

Sautéed Nettles with Chewy Crunchy Garlic
Serves 2

a double handful of nettles, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ghee or refined coconut oil
1/2 lemon
pink salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
optional: extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes

Melt ghee or coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and sauté for a few minutes, swirling the pan now and then to distribute the heat. As soon as the garlic begins to getting golden, add the nettles. Cook a minute or two, stir and gently turn. Cook another minute or two and remove from heat once the leaves begin to lightly brown.

Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over the nettles, then season with black pepper and pink salt to taste (it shouldn’t need much salt thanks to the lemon). As you serve the nettles, you may optionally drizzle with olive oil, or sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Another option to boost the health benefits is to stir a scant teaspoon of turmeric powder in with the sautéing garlic just before adding the nettles.

nettles with crunchy garlic

I mentioned Dr. Suhas. He and is wife, Dr. Manisha, are two of my great mentors. I offered Dr. Manisha’s book Eternal Beauty in this post, and offer you now Dr. Suhas’ new book,  The Art and Science of Vedic Counseling, co-written with another of my longtime mentors and friend Dr. David Frawley.

“The Art and Science of Vedic Counseling” is the best counseling guide available for students, teachers, and practitioners of Ayurveda, Yoga, and related healing arts. The book is an ever-cherished collection of knowledge, wisdom and a practical, clinical reference. I highly recommend the book to all who love Yoga & Ayurveda.”
~ Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician

If you would like to be entered to receive this book, please leave a comment below.

how to cook nettles
Do you suffer from spring allergies? If so, I highly recommend a daily dose of nettles – along with this great article from Banyan Botanicals on Ayurveda’s approach to allergies.

Do you have a favorite nettle recipe? Do you have memories of a grandmother harvesting greens in spring? How do you keep the traditions of nature’s medicine alive in your life, your family, our world? I would love to hear. Thank you & Namaste!

Do you have a favorite nettle recipe? Do you have memories of a grandmother harvesting greens in spring? How do you keep the traditions of nature’s medicine alive in your life, your family, our world? I would love to hear. Thank you & Namaste!

 

Staying Healthy (Even in College)

Oh the joys of travel! While spending a day in Phoenix enrolling my favorite 18 year old at the Walter Cronkite School of Broadcast Journalism, we met four young women also enrolling, but in their case enrolling to study Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at ASU.

Of course I was fascinated to learn what health means to them, why they are so passionate about the subject, and what they do to maintain their own best wellness as they prepare to begin college in the Fall. So I asked! On the video below you will find their answers, some of which are surprising (as in surprisingly simple, wise and everyday inspiring).

~

Thanks to Morgan Willis for his expert videography. WCBJ is lucky to have him! And ASU is lucky to have Taylor, Sabrina, Charmaine and Destiny. Good luck to all of you.

morgan at asu

If you are a college student or have a child heading off to school soon, here are my top five student-smart, healthy recipes anyone can enjoy any time:

  1. Brahmi Bark
    Brahmi Bark literally makes you smarter. It helps with concentration, memory and focus while offering a healthy way to address chocolate cravings.
  2. Golden Milk
    Full of turmeric, Golden Milk has many health benefits including addressing skin problems that can plague teens. Warm milk also helps with sleep, which is so crucial to good health and a sharp mind.
  3. Primal Pumpkin Coconut Bread
    For a winning after school pick-me-up or a college care package, this is sugar-free, gluten-free, high protein, clean energy at its most sumptuous.
  4. Pistachio Truffles
    Another great one for a care package or quick anytime energy, these truffles are so easy to make, you almost just have to.
  5. Yam Fries
    For students used to fast food, these yam fries could convert them to healthy, whole food in the first bite. Savory and satisfying, they are as simple to make as slicing, spicing and baking.

Aren’t we fortunate to live in a world where so many are coming alive to the delicious benefits of mother nature’s bounty?

What about you? What inspires you? What are your best practices for everyday wellness?

 

Creamy Dal Makhani

dal makhani

Finishing up my “favorites from India trilogy” is Dal Makhani, a sumptuous stew of lentils and kidney beans traditionally served at weddings. Given its depth of flavor and richness, you might expect it to be difficult to make. But really it’s as simple as cooking up the beans, making a sauce, and deciding how you want to finish it – milk, ghee, or a Vegan twist on the original, coconut cream.

The recipe comes from our Chef Altah Shah of Raga on the Ganges. I’ve dramatically simplified it for you, without, I hope, sacrificing any of its richness because I really don’t want you to miss out on this Punjabi treasure.

For those of you pressed for time, I’ve given quantities for pre-cooked beans. Of course we should all cook from scratch, but lately I have been hearing so many friends tell me they and their families are eating frozen and microwaved “foods” due to time shortages. This breaks my heart and makes me want to run over and prepare weekly meals! I can only hope to make delicious, savory, satisfying meals easier, tempting busy people with wedding feast recipes to be enjoyed as everyday delights.

split urad dal-web

kidney beans-web

You can find urad dal at Indian/Asian grocers. Typically whole dal is used, but I was only able to find split urad dal. If you can’t find urad dal at all, replace it with mung or adzuki beans. If you are new to cooking beans,  the kitchn has a great how to article.

If you use precooked beans, look for adzuki in place of the dal. Use 3 cups adzuki with 1 cup kidney bean. Drain and warm them in a saucepan, stir in the sauce and finish with your choice of cream.

When I make this, I use coconut cream instead of milk, since Ayurveda warns that mixing beans and dairy can cause gas, bloating, indigestion. Typically, though, it is milk or cream that is used. The milk makes it creamy without altering its flavor. The coconut has its own distinct taste, of course and makes it sweeter.

Creamy Dal Makhani

Beans
1 c urad dal (black gram)
1/3 c kidney beans
5 c water (or veg broth or a combination of the two)
3-4 garlic cloves or 1 T garlic powder
1 T finely chopped ginger
1 t turmeric
1 pinch hing (asafotida) or hingvastak which can be purchased from Banyan Botanicals

Sauce
4 T ghee or coconut oil
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 t fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
1 T ginger, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 scant t smoked paprika
1 t garam masala powder
2 t pink salt
1 T ghee or olive oil
Coconut cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream or milk

Soak dal and kidney beans for 24 hours in plenty of water. Drain and rinse. Bring to a gentle simmer with enough water to cover, along with the ginger, garlic, turmeric and cook until beans are soft. Stir in hingvastak.

To make the sauce, heat ghee or oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add cumin seeds and sauté, gently swirling the pan now and then to keep them from burning. As soon as they begin to brown, stir in the fenugreek, onion, ginger, and garlic, and sauté until golden.

Add the red pepper flakes, and sauté another minute. Next stir in the tomatoes and turn up the heat to high. Cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp, stirring often to keep the bottom from browning.

Stir in the paprika, garam masala, and salt, then pour this sauce in with the cooked beans.  Simmer on low heat until the mixture is creamy and well blended. Turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in one final spoonful of ghee or olive oil, and a hearty scoop of coconut cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream, or milk, and serve.

It is a perfect meal with basmati rice (in the final photo below) and greens like palak paneer, or simply with a warm flatbread like chapati or naan.

dal makhani

rice and beans-web

The Ayurvedic literature gives the benefits of urad dal as: unctuous, promoting positive kapha and pitta, increasing bulk of feces (meaning “high in fiber”), laxative, grounding, warming, strengthening, reducing Vata, sweet in taste, and good for reproductive tissue.

What is your favorite Indian food? Are there any you would like me to write up? Let me know so I can help you help everyone stay healthy, happy and whole.

Love always. Sat Nam. Santé. Namaste! 

Himalayan Halva

As we continue to travel, “six tasting India” both north and south, there are certain dishes that elicit such oohs and ahhs they have to be shared. Fortunately, wherever we go the restaurant staff is so delighted by the exclamations of praise that recipes are readily granted. One such was Chef Altah Shah of Raga on the Ganges whose delightful meal creations overcame language barriers to communicate friendship, generosity and loving nourishment.

Chef at Raga

Laura's India Yatra

This red halva may not fit easily into the category of “Ayurvedically inspired” but I could make a case for it.

First, it comes from India as does Ayurveda. That may sound like a weak start but it’s almost impossible to separate Ayurvedic medicine from the culture where it was born. So many of Ayurveda’s staple meals resemble Indian classics – dal, rices, vegetable soups and broths – and involve Indian ingredients like ghee, boiled milk, mung dal, cardamom, ginger, etc.

Most importantly, many Ayurvedic medicines are stirred into boiled milk, often with jaggery added. That may seem odd, but this age-old tradition holds that bitter herbs and astringent medicines are rendered optimally bioavailable when blended with foods of the hydrating, cooling, strengthening, sweet taste.

Plus, beets are good for you.

Beet Halva
What they call Beetroot Halva, we might call a Beet Pudding. It is a creamy curiosity. We had fun asking people to guess what it was before we told them. Some thought chocolate, others a rice or nut pudding, and one even thought it was cookie dough. Each had a different guess, but no one guessed beets!

Here is the recipe translated from Chef Shah who makes desserts in large quantities and measures in the metric system. I made this yesterday for friends who raved, so I think the translation works. Earlier this week I tried translating it even further into a vegan dish. As it relies heavily on milk, as most Indian desserts do, it was a risk. But before anyone knew what the original would taste like, they swooned over the vegan version. That recipe, plus three photos of the vegan halva served with coconut ice cream, are below.

Beetroot Halwa

2 c beets, grated
2 c organic whole milk
1/2 c khoya*
1/2 c jaggery (raw sugar)
1/3 c ghee or coconut oil
25 cashews
25 g raisins

Put grated beets in a saucepan with milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Add khoya, sugar, ghee, nuts and raisins. Stir. Serve warm. It is delicious with homemade vanilla ice cream, or plain yogurt.

*Khoya: You can make khoya by bringing 3 cups of organic whole milk to a boil and then simmering for two hours to reduce. 

FullSizeRender 7

Vegan Beetroot Halwa

2 c beets, grated
2 c organic coconut milk
1/2 c coconut milk khoya**
1/2 c dates, pitted and chopped
2 handfuls cashews
1 handful golden raisins
maple syrup, to taste – optional
dash cardamom
dash ginger

Soak cashews. Soak dates. Put grated beets in a saucepan with milk and bring to  boil. Reduce and simmer for one hour. Drain cashews and dates, Add to beets along with khoya, raisins and spices. Stir and simmer until reduced to a pudding like consistency. Taste and add maple syrup if needed.

Serve warm. It is delicious with coconut ice cream.

**Coconut Khoya: I made the khoya with organic coconut milk by bringing 3 cups (equivalent to two 13.5 ounce cans) to a boil and then simmering for 1 hour to reduce. 

FullSizeRender 9

In India today is Holi, a colorful day celebrating the arrival of Spring. Honoring mother nature’s blossoming beauty, I want to celebrate that in you too – and so am offering my friend Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar’s new book Enchanting Beauty to one beautiful reader. Please leave a comment below if you are interested in this gift.

What is your intent for your beautiful self this Spring?

 

GF Crepes with Cinnamon Orange Honey

gf pancake (1)

Traveling through India inspires me to share with you something we’ve been enjoying. Dosas, rotis, chapatis and rice flour “pancakes” have been favorites with our group this year, and are easy to make at home for a healthy and delicious breakfast.

ganges

Based on the simple flatbread called chapati, this egg-free recipe can be modified to your tastes. Make the batter a bit thicker by adding less water and you have pancakes. Make it thinner and you have a more delicate crepe.

There is no milk in the dough, just ghee for cooking. If you want to make it completely dairy free, replace the ghee with coconut oil. For a more savory version, swap the cinnamon and cardamom for fenugreek, dill, garlic or fennel.

Mung dal is yellow in color and also known as split mung bean. Look for it at Indian or Asian markets, or save yourself time and go to my favorite source, the online store Banyan Botanicals

rice lentil pancake-sm l

It’s quick to make, just read through the recipe before you begin as there is a bit of prep you need to do the day before serving.

Gluten-free Crepes
Serves 4-6

1 c rice
1/2 c mung dal
water for soaking
2 c water for batter
pinch pink salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
2 T ghee

Cinnamon Orange Honey
1 orange
1/4 c raw local honey
1/2 t cinnamon

To Make the Crepes
Combine the rice and dal in a large bowl. Cover with 3 inches of water and soak 8-10 hours. Drain. Transfer to a blender or food processor, and purée with the two cups of water and salt until smooth. Transfer back to the bowl, cover with a towel, and let stand six to 12 hours at room temperature, or until the batter is fermented and slightly bubbly on the surface. Stir in the spices and mix well.

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. Melt 1 T ghee in a large skillet or iron griddle over medium heat. Let it get hot, then ladle the batter onto the skillet. Allow it to cook about three minutes or until it is golden on the underside. Gently and cook another minute or so until both sides are golden. Slide onto a baking tray and set in the oven to keep warm while you make up the rest. Add more ghee as needed.

To Make the Cinnamon Orange Honey
Juice the orange and pour the liquid into a small bowl. Add the honey and cinnamon and whisk together until well blended. Pour over the crepes for a perfect March breakfast.

Ideas for Serving
Pair it with half a grapefruit for a citrusy wake up in the morning, or lather it with almond butter. Serve it with your lunch or dip it into hummus or plain yogurt for a snack. For a lovely dessert, slice bananas over it while it cooks, fold it in half and drizzle with honey or maple syrup. It is also good on its own and excellent for soaking up the last drops of juices, sauces and soups.

The leftover batter can be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.

morgan and pancake copy

parmarth niketan ashram rishikesh
Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh
moon over rishikesh-sml
Moon over the Himalayan foothills at sunrise today

 

I am posting photos of this exquisite trip here and here if you would like to taste a bit of the nectar. Meanwhile, I wish you all light, love and peace.

Namaste. 

 

Love + Links

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

~Rumi

pure vege chocolate-cake

It’s Valentine’s Day and I want to share Love by sharing with you some of my favorite Ayurvedic blogs, and some favorite poetry.

Four Faves

Pure Vege

As a bhakti-yogini, Pure Vege’s author Lakshmi says her “work lies within the realm of consciousness…” allowing her “to live a simple, sustainable life and make responsible choices. Cooking healthy and wholesome is an exercise of love and goodness… an essential yoga-practice.”  Her recipes run from the Yogic/Ayurvedic basics to the multi-layered, multi-spiced, multi-flavored meals of India. Always, she maintains an elegant simplicity that celebrates the beauty of nature, and as you see from her “eggless chocolate cake” above, her photographs are mouth-watering.

journey kitchen pancakes

Journey Kitchen

A food photographer and stylist by profession, Umme Kulsum is also a food writer through her blog, Journey Kitchen. She explains, “My food is influenced by my Indian roots, Middle Eastern upbringing and interest in food from around the world. My non-Indian friends call me an Indian cook with modern touches while most Indians would call my food some kind of ‘fusion’ but I just see myself as an Indian cook who does what our ancestors have always been doing – take influences from the people, produce and life around us.”

Clarie Vidya - KitchariVidya Living

Another great talent, Claira Ragozzino devotes her beautiful blog entirely to Ayurveda and Yogic living. “Vidya actually means clarity, knowledge, and inner wisdom,” she writes. “And I believe, like wisdom, wellness starts from within. Vidya Living is where I share, teach and inspire holistic wellness fusing the ancient practices of Ayurveda and Yoga with modern plant-based nutrition.” It all looks so clean, hearty, warm and romantic.

Vidya - Beet Bowl1

Banyan Botanicals Blog

Claire took this photo for Banyan Botanicals, the Ayurvedic formulary now blogging with posts from seasoned practitioners across the field. Because Banyan sells Ayurvedic herbs and products the articles are more medical and precise than you usually find in more personal and flavor-focused food blogs. But it is still a blog – with a pull up a chair and a have a cuppa welcoming feel.

~~~

God came to my house and asked for charity.
And I fell on my knees and
cried, “Beloved,

what may I
give?”

“Just love,” He said.
“Just love.”

~St. Francis of Assisi

ayurvedanextdoor

Three More

I’ve mentioned her in my favorites list before, and I still love Kate Schwabacher who writes with authority, even as she shares her learning and growing.

I’ll always love Vegenista for its beauty, creativity and deep commitment to principles, but especially because Melissa writes with such a pure heart. She gives and she gives.

Finally, Ayurveda Next Door has captured my attention with a dedication to values, fresh articles and thoughtful community building.

Founder Jennifer Eddinger is an “Ayurveda convert, living and breathing the Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle since her first consultation in 1999.” Jennifer subsequently took it upon herself to organize an online directory of Ayurveda, listing practitioners, suppliers and schools to provide greater access to all.

It’s a complex undertaking, but Jennifer and her team are masterful. Reading between their lines, you also can feel they are really good souls. The two photos above and one below are from their blog.

pitta-dosha-ayurveda next door

Don’t forget love,
It will bring you all the madness you need
to unfurl yourself across the universe.

~Mirabai

Namaste my fellow food, beauty, heart and cosmic life lovers!
Happy Love Day always.

 

MA’s Chocolate Tart + Dosha Bars Giveaway

Melissa Ambrosini Chocolate Orange Tart

Nowadays we make friends in such new and interesting ways – over the ethers of email, blogs, social media. I call them “my blog friends” and at least for me, it’s not until I actually get to be with this person in person that I realize I have never actually met them in person. 

Such is the way with Melissa Ambrosini (love that her initials are MA). Melissa is the divine beauty who writes and blogs and generally loves the world from her bright perch over Sydney’s seafront. After years of connecting via Skype and following each other’s travels on Instagram, Melissa just called to say that she’s coming to visit. I love that odd feeling that combines looking forward to seeing a great friend with the anticipation of meeting someone new. (Robyn Field, you’re next!)

In honor of friendship, which is the divine love I am celebrating this Valentine’s Day, Melissa has given me permission to share her Chocolate & Orange Tart. I hope you love it. I know you will love her.

Melissa’s Chocolate & Orange Tart

For the base:

2 ½ c shredded coconut
½ t vanilla bean powder (I used vanilla extract and it worked just fine)
½ t cinnamon
4 T coconut oil
1 egg
Pinch of salt
½ t liquid stevia (if you don’t like stevia, try 1 tablespoon maple syrup)

For the filling:

Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1/4 t liquid stevia (or to taste)
3 eggs (free range and organic)
6 T coconut oil
3 T cacao powder
2 T cacao butter, melted

Blend all base ingredients in food processor. Line the base of a pie pan with non-stick paper. Press base mixture into the pan and up the sides about 1 cm high. Press and pack firm. Bake in an oven on 140 degrees until golden brown, then remove from oven to cool down.

To make the filling, whisk eggs in a saucepan. Add coconut oil and place on a gentle heat until oil is melted into eggs while stirring constantly to avoid the eggs clumping. Once melted, add orange juice, orange zest (reserve a generous pinch for garnish), cacao and stevia. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to get silky. Avoid it getting too thick as the oil will separate.

Take off heat. Press the mixture through a strainer into the cooled base, leaving only zest in the strainer. Shake the pan until the filling covers the whole base evenly. Place in fridge to set (approximately 2 hours). Serve with grated orange zest on top.

Note: You can make these into little tartlets if you prefer.

Melissa Ambrosini's Gut Healthy Brownie

This recipe, along with the gut-healthy chocolate brownie  pictured above, and made with the genius of a sweet potato, are two of many gorgeous recipes in Melissa’s Glow Kitchen Recipe eBook.

As you’ll see from her recipes, Melissa chooses high protein, clean foods, influenced by the seven principles of Body Ecology (a system that seems to me to come straight from Ayurveda, especially Ayurvedic principles for Vata Dosha). If you are Vegan, I have many healthy, nutritious, belly-loving and mouth watering, chocolate recipes for you here.

Dosha Bars

By the way, Love came to me last month in a box of Dosha Bars – delicious, unsweetened fruit and seed snacks made of ingredients that balance the three doshas. To share that love we’ve teamed up to offer 3 winners a sample kit with 3 Dosha Bars (each kit includes one of each flavor–Cherry Chakra to balance Vata, Blueberry Balance for Pitta balancing and Apple Cran Awakening to balance Kapha) AND a 12-pack of Dosha Bars (including 4 of each flavor) for one lucky lover! If you like to stay healthy in the midst of a busy life, please check out their website to learn about this young, Ayurvedic team and let’s show them some love for all their generosity.

We’ll pick randomly from the comments. So please let us know, what are you celebrating this Valentine’s Day? How is love showing up in your life? I love stories of love, so do share.

I hope Love fills you with its gifts this weekend and always. Namaste!

 

 

Detox Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh 4-web

Why do I call this Detox Tabbouleh? Unlike the traditional recipe, I don’t add bulgur or tomato, so it is free of those pesky foods that can be inflammatory. Like the traditional recipe though, I do add garlic, a really good olive oil and lots of lemon, because all three are known to help detoxify the body. Above all, this is full of greens, and greens clean.

Parsley & Cilantro are potent detoxifiers, providing necessary nutrients and daily fiber. Parsley also helps to clean your breath of garlic odor, so it is a perfect paring. And if you’ve joined me for any of my seasonal cleanses, you know my love of cilantro for its heavy metal scrubbing power.

Who is this for? Greens are good for everybody, helping Vata with necessary fiber for easier elimination, cooling inflammation and strengthening liver function to help Pitta keep cool, and providing the bitters that lighten up Kapha.

Tabbouleh-web

It tastes like an ancient Mesopotamian garden. I’d serve it to the poet Hafiz if he’d come over for dinner. Like his Gifts, our mother earth’s bounty is an eternal feast.

Detox Tabbouleh

1 bunch parsley
1 handful cilantro, optional
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic
3-4 fists of pine nuts
2 capfuls really fine extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic in a food processor and mince. Add the parsley, cilantro, spring onions and process. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix. Toss in the pine nuts, drizzle in the olive oil and give it one more quick pulse. Taste, adjust flavors, and pulse again if you like your pine nuts broken down and integrated more.

Serve alone, or with soups, salads, toast, or crackers. It is also great spooned over heartier dishes.

*Note: If you are Pitta, you can reduce the amounts of garlic and spiring onion, or eliminate altogether. 

Tabbouleh 3-web

Speaking of getting healthy for the new year, my Winter Cleanse launches this Saturday. It’s a hearty cleanse – gentle enough that you can keep up with your daily routines, but solid enough that you will feel better, and delicious enough to keep you building momentum. All for only $10 for 10 recipes, meal plans + Ayurvedic wisdom and email inspiration.

I will give away a winter cleanse to a commenter below (picked randomly, always). So tell me, how do you nourish and purify in winter?

 

Jen’s Minestrone

Minestrone Soup (1)

There is nothing like cooking. Sure, there’s gardening, but it’s winter. There’s Yoga too, and walking on the beach, noodling with your dog, or giggling with a girlfriend. All of this can restore you to yourself. But there is nothing quite like cooking to really take you home.

So when we all went for a hike and a swim on New Year’s Day, and my sister Jen stayed home to prepare this minestrone soup, I watched her do something I love to do and saw in her doing, the beauty of that ritual.

Jen turned to Food52 for inspiration, adapting (and I believe improving) this recipe. It’s more feast than soup – hearty enough to satisfy, light enough to make a happy belly and start your new year healthy.

Jen skipped the pesto, serving it simply with chopped parsley, parmesan and pepitas (with a lot of help from Mama). It was perfect like that, but I add the recipe for pesto in case you want that extra flavor punch.

minestrone soup cu

Smoky Minestrone Soup, adapted from Food 52
Serves 6-8

3 T ghee
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
1 t chipotle powder
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 c purple cabbage, sliced and
4 c vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1 & 1/2 c of cooked “Orca” beans (or, 1  15 oz. can of organic cooked beans)
3 c tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped (or 1 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes, with juice)
Pink salt or sea salt, & fresh cracked pepper
1 c spinach, chopped fine
2 c high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini, optional

Garnish:
Aged balsamic vinegar
Pine nuts
Pesto*
Grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons of the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened. Stir in chipotle and let sauté one minute before adding the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, cabbage and stir around for a minute or two. Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Add a few generous pinches of salt (be judicious if your stock is salted already), and a grind of two of pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Add the spinach and tortellini and continue to cook over a simmer about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of the aged balsamic, a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkling of pine nuts and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Be generous here – this is where the soup goes from wholesome to holy.

*Parsley or Basil Pesto

cup loosely packed basil or parsley
tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
cloves garlic, peeled
tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
tablespoon olive oil

Chop the basil or parsley by hand until it’s very fine, reducing it down to 1/4 cup.

Chop the garlic and mash the pine nuts until fine.  Incorporate the ingredients in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil. Use as a garnish for the minestrone.

* You can make this vegan by replacing the ghee with coconut oil, the pasta with a vegan one, and the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast.

minestrone soup

New Year Healthy: This soup is great for your New Year’s wellness plan. With a rich spectrum of vegetables, parsley, and beans, it is low in fat, but high in macro/micro nutrients and fiber. Parmesan cheese is a dry, aged cheese so while  adding body to the soup, it is low in fat, and high in digestive enzymes. Chipotle and garlic not only ramp up flavor, they are helpful for winter’s sometimes sluggish digestion. Carrots give the sweet taste that keeps us grounded in Vata season while celery adds the bitter taste that helps purify.

What are your new year plans for self care, self love and self nourishment? 

 

Entice with Spice: A Holiday Party

holiday table

Last week I catered a dinner for ten, as a fundraiser for our local Soroptimists supporting women and girls in education and business development. We called it “Entice with Spice” and this was our menu.

Entice with Spice

I am not a caterer, but it was the brainchild of Wendy McGuire, former owner of Ganosh Gourmet (ganosh = gnosh, ganache + ganesh because Wendy is truly multicultural in kitchen and in life). Wendy promised to help, and I put my trust in her, even as she trusted me to take the lead in offering a rich experience of spices.

appetizer table

We began with appetizers by the fireside and a chat about Ayurveda, focusing then on food and spicing for your body type, the medicinal value of spices, sampling the six tastes, and some of the best spices for each dosha. Intricately enticed, the guests moved to the dinner table where we served a sumptuously spiced meal to delight every sense.

appetizer tray

greens

endive bar

collageappetizer

Having just met Erin Gleeson at The Front Porch when she came in for a book signing and taste samplings (Thank you Sally!), I was inspired to borrow those same drinks and appetizers served. It lent perfect holiday color, while aligning with the “Indian Raj” theme that delighted our gin- and scotch-loving guests with twists on their usual.

gin fizz

pear

apricot canape

Here are the recipes:

Drinks (inspired by Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast)

Rosemary Gin Fizz

Hot Pear Toddies

Appetizers (also inspired by Erin Gleeson)

Endive Bar

Spicy Pecans and Pepitas

Apricot Goat Cheese Bites

Ginger Miso Soup

braised squash and cranberry arugula salad

digestive drink

Dinner

Ginger Miso Consommé

Fish Molee  with Spinach Saag and Sesame Speckled Basmati

Braised Squash and Cranberry Arugula Salad with a Citrus Dressing

Digestive Tonic (fresh mint and lemon infused bitters)

Dessert

Chocolate Pâté

Nutmeg Lassi

Plates of Indian Treats

chocolate pate

dessert table

I think they liked it. They were kind enough to write.

“Wow, we’re still basking in the warm glow of what surely ranks up there as one of the most interesting, beautiful, original and downright DELICIOUS evenings ever! Thank you both so very much for including us – it was perfect in every single way!”

“It was wonderful!!! We fully enjoyed the evening and our guests have been raving about what fun it all was. The next day I babysat two of our granddaughters came over for the day and they loved seeing the party things. Thank you again for donating this lovely experience for Soroptimists.”

Our beautiful hostess

Big thanks to our hostess Gail for her generous gift to Soroptimists, and a big thanks to Coronado Soroptimists for all you do to support our communities, and for the Ruby Award that gave launch to our Sophia Camp.

I send out immense gratitude to Wendy who offered her kitchen when our house burned just as the three days of prep began, and whose patience, expertise and heart really made this the magical night that it was.

Thank you Shannon Jones for these gorgeous photographs. Thank you Sally for the invitation to meet Erin, and for all the ways you inspire me, and thanks to all of you who bring beauty, nourishment and love to our world. To me, beauty, friendship and delight is the best medicine of all.

Forest Feast


If you would like Erin’s Forest Feast Recipebook, please leave a comment below. I will pick a name randomly and send it out next week. How do you celebrate this season of light? 

Happy Holy Days. I wish you all love, joy and peace. 

 

Food Love: Return to India

 

lifemantra team

Have you ever wondered what it is like behind the scenes of one of your favorite cooking shows?

Last Spring I was treated to the joys of food television production. The hours were grueling, the work surprisingly exhausting and the conditions far from luxurious – but it was one of the most deliciously satisfying and memorable challenges of my recent years. At the end, I felt it was my Matterhorn, that impossible mountain you think you could never climb, and it was my great pleasure to make so many talented, hard-working, funny and kind new friends who helped make “the trek.”

Those friends just sent me a trailer – ***and now they have asked me to wait on posting it until the show launches, so stay tuned.

 

It is because of you, my blog readers, that I was able to shoot this series in India and share recipes and tips originally written for you. I’d love to hear what you think. Most of all, thank you!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Strata

Savory Breakfast casserole

I know. It feels like we are starting to over-do the pumpkin theme.

And yet, if you have pumpkin purée remaining from your Thanksgiving provisions then you have to try this pumpkin strata for breakfast or weekend brunch.

Photo: Minimalist Baker
Photo: Minimalist Baker

Inspired by my Mum whose own Strata has always been a brunch favorite, and by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks whose Spinach Strata is a great take on that old fave, and also by the Minimalist Baker whose photo above of Pumpkin French Toast was shared with me recently by Shannon Jones.

A gratitude shout out, too, to Morgan Anderson who recently suggested “We should tell people how good pumpkin is for them. They don’t have to skip the pie.”  It is tri-doshic, after all, so everyone gets the benefits.

Mom and I sort of made this up when we had a brunch to serve and not a whole lot of time to prepare, meaning it’s easy and quick. For best texture and greatest ease,  make it the night before and just pop it in the oven an hour before your guests arrive. It’s a lovely color, with a moist, tender texture. Honestly, everyone seemed to love it. My favorite words of gratitude were from my uber-talented sister-in-law who said, “You know I can’t eat sugar, so I never get to have pumpkin for Thanksgiving. Thanks for making something I can have, and something so good!”

Filling a need, while inspiring the palate – that’s a dharma I am grateful for!

Pumpkin Strata
Serves 10-12

1/2 c shallots or yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 cups pumpkin purée
2 c whole milk
6 eggs
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t sage
1/4 t celery seed
1 good shake pumpkin spice
optionally, 1/2 to a full teaspoon curry powder
himalayan salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 T ghee
7-8 cups stale bread, cubed or sliced
1 c cheddar, grated
handful of pumpkin seeds
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated

Set your oven to 350F. Put your onion and garlic in an electric blender and chop. Add pumpkin, milk, eggs, herbs and mix well. In a casserole dish, evenly distribute your cubed bread  and cheddar. Pour the egg mixture over. Top with pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through the middle and sizzling golden on top.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Thanks to Getty Images for photos of pumpkins. Thank you to all the photographers and artists in my life who keep inspiring us to look, to see, to be inquisitive ~ and thanks to you for taking the time to read, comment, try the recipes and inspire with your own sacred, sumptuous life.

I would love to hear what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

I wish you a blessed holiday and holy days always.

Expanding Light: Feast of Retreat

I recently returned from a week studying with the eminent, brilliant and surprisingly droll James Kelleher at the Expanding Light Retreat Center in the Sierras.

Serenity

Jyotish in the Sierras

Ananda means bliss, and that it was. Even the meals. Despite being cafeteria style, everything was delicious and divinely digestible. It was perfect autumn comfort: warming, nourishing, strengthening, reassuring.

veg meatballs

Lunch in the Sierras

I didn’t have my camera, nor did the chefs have anything written down, but I had to share these with you – so please forgive the images, they are from my phone. Hopefully you get a sense of it. Forgive too, please, the recipes. The chefs never had amounts – and if they did, it would have been enough to feed an army – the expanding light brigade, of course!

I think you can make sense of it. If not, please leave questions in the comments below, and together we can share our successes.

veggie tofu roast

Ananda Menu

Chef Jake

Chef Jake’s Veggie Roast with Braised Tofu

Brussel Sprouts
Whole Garlic
Onions thick slice
Carrots
Yams
Peas
Safflower Oil
Tamari or soy sauce
Chives
Basil
Onion Granules
Garlic Granules
Black Pepper
Oregano
Tofu
Ghee or coconut oil
Tamari soy sauce

Chop your larger vegetables coarsely. Mix the safflower oil and everything else that follows until well blended. Toss with the vegetables and pour into a casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 for half an hour. Uncover and bake another half hour.

Meanwhile, as soon as you’ve put the veggies in the oven, slice the tofu into 1” thick pieces. Melt ghee or coconut oil in a sauté pan. Sauté the tofu pieces 3 minutes on each side. Put the tofu in a bowl with tamari or soy sauce and cover. Leave covered half an hour. Add to the roast the last ten minutes it is in the oven before serving.

Zucchini Boats

zucchini boat

Zucchini Boats

Zucchini
Baby Bello Mushrooms
Onion, finely chopped
Garlic, minced
Ghee or olive oil
Pink Salt and Fresh Pepper
Udi’s Gluten-free bread
Walnuts
Eggs (Vegans could use flax and/or psyllium)
Option: bbq sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, nutritional yeast

Slice your zucchini the long way. Scoop out the zucchini. Save the insides. Put your mushrooms in a processor and grind them into little bits. Sauté onions in ghee or olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Simmer for a moment then stir in the zucchini and mushrooms. Meanwhile, break up pieces of Udi’s bread and process with walnuts until finely ground. Drain the vegetable mixture and mix with bread and walnuts. Scoop this mixture into the zucchini slices and place on a baking tray. Chef told me that if he were making this at home, we would drizzle barbecue sauce, or cheese over the top before baking at 375F. Give it about 20 minutes. Pull it out of the oven when the top is a sizzling golden brown. They served it with garlicky mash potatoes, braised chard and the gravy below.

veggie gravy

Veggie Gravy

onion, chopped
safflower oil
garlic, chopped
veggie broth
nutritional yeast
option: for darker color and richer taste: gf tamari

Sauté onions in safflower oil. Once translucent add the garlic, stir and sauté a minute or so. minutes. Add vegetable broth. Puree, bring to a boil, stir in the nutritional yeast and tamari to taste.

Veggie Meatballs

walnut meatballs

Walnut Meatballs

Zucchini filling, left over from making the Zucchini boats
Walnuts, chopped
Egg, just enough to bind
Nutritional Yeast or Mozzarella Cheese, optional

Mix it all together. Shape into balls. Sauté in ghee, or bake until golden on the outside and cook all the way through. Serve with what the Chef called “a classic southern Italian sauce with onions, garlic, tomatoes, lots of basil and oregano, cooked long and slow.”

Met Scott while I was there, who said he knew me from my blog. He works in their kitchen, which I was visiting at that moment to write up the recipes for this blog, which is one more example of the grace of the place.

sunset sierras

Expanding Light is part of Ananda Village, a spiritual community started by Swami Kriyananda, devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda. So everywhere you are there, you are under the gaze of that great Guru, which is itself another name for Jupiter in Sanskrit. Whether it is by the light of the guru, or the ananda of divine embrace, or enjoying a meal prepared by sweet, pure hearted devotees, it is all love. I wish you that eternally.